Nicki Flannery admits she felt "scared and intimidated" the first time she glanced up at Michelle Heyman inside the Canberra United change rooms.
This was her hero, the W-League star Flannery had gone to watch with her dad for years as Canberra established themselves as a powerhouse on the national scene.
Flannery was a 16-year-old just doing her best to fit in and steer clear of putting any noses out of joint.
"I'm not going to lie, I was pretty scared and intimidated by her," Flannery said.
But now she knows she needn't have worried as Heyman took Flannery under her wing. Fast forward six years and "she's like a sister to me".
Now Heyman is on the verge of her 100th game for Canberra United in their must-win away clash with the Newcastle Jets on Saturday night.
So Flannery took a chance to stress to her teammates the importance of rising to the occasion when Heyman stepped out of the room at training on Thursday morning.
"Michelle is such an incredible person, she's so welcoming to everyone. All the young girls, she is the first one to support them and put them under her wing," Flannery said.
"I used to look up to her a lot as a player. She used to score goals in front of my eyes, every weekend I went with my dad. When I'm playing with her I'm still kind of in shock.
"It's honestly an honour to play alongside Michelle. She is one of my closest friends off the field as well so it is a really special bond we have created just by playing with each other.
"Even though we went our separate ways [in recent seasons] we always supported each other. She's like a sister to me."
Heyman has enjoyed a triumphant return to Canberra after eclipsing Sam Kerr as the W-League's leading goal scorer last Friday night.
Now the most pressing task at hand is guiding United back to the finals after a three-year exile.
"She has come back with a bit of weight lifted off her shoulders. She has got that record finally, she did feel a bit of the pressure," Flannery smiled.
"Her energy at training has just been incredible this season and it has allowed me to just enjoy myself too because I'm just doing what she is doing.
"We just know where each other are and that shines through on the field at times. It's nice to know Michelle has got your back and I've got hers.
"She's so much fun, and that's what I really admire in Michelle. She is herself on and off the field, she is so authentic. What you see is what you get, and luckily for me I get to spend more time with her than other people."
Canberra sit fifth entering the final two rounds of the season but they will have to reverse a horrible away record to keep their finals ambition alive.
United are yet to win a game on the road this season but Flannery is adamant they can turn things around this weekend as they brace for a heavy downpour in Newcastle.
"We're all pretty much aware away trips haven't gone as planned but we're also aware we have to win," Flannery said.
"We've got a really good feeling amongst the group, we know we're going to have to fight for it."